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DISCOVER THE STRIP THE ELMWOOD STRIP HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR AREAS OF THE CITY, SO EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT MUCH OF A SHOPPER, IT IS A GREAT PLACE TO HANG OUT AND WATCH PEOPLE

Looking for a new place to hang out this summer besides the mall? The latest trends around Buffalo can be seen on the Elmwood Strip. With everything from vintage clothes to sushi bars to upscale gift shops, the Strip, which is loosely bordered by Bird and West Ferry, has something for everyone.

Don't come into the city often? It's definitely worth the trip on a sunny summer's day -- even a rainy summer's day!

Some warnings: Parking along the Strip can be difficult, so be patient and check side streets (stay away from driveways). Also, some of the shops we scoped out can be pricey, and the staffs aren't always thrilled when groups of teens come in to browse. So be polite and on your best behavior!

OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Vintage is the latest trend on Elmwood. A store called Etc (986 Elmwood Ave) has led the way with its unique selection of Army fatigues, furs, and jewelry. Want to stand out at the prom next year? Check out Etc's dresses for under $50.

LuLu and Co. Clothing (1008 Elmwood Ave.) is the perfect place to find vintage accessories to compliment your new look. And if you want to carry the vintage feel to the max, Buffalo's Attic can help you out. The store appears small, but a set of stairs leads to another room filled with vintage clothing and antique collectibles.

If you're in to more recent styles, try Uncommon Threads (779 Elmwood Ave.), a small dress shop that has expanded to include a wider range of clothes. Urban, a self-proclaimed threads and sleds shop, is one of the more well-known places on the Strip. It has a laid back atmosphere that fits in with its "skater" style. If it's shoes you're into, Bovvers Shoes (1004 Elmwood Ave.) is for you. Vans and Dr. Martins dominate the shelves, which are always well stocked with the coolest British kicks.

IT'S BETTER TO GIVE...

If you're tired of giving your friend yet another gift certificate, you'll be happy to know that Elmwood has stores filled with anything but the usual gifts.

Thunder Bay (734 Elmwood Ave) is a small gift store owned by Newell Nussbaumer. It has a Southwestern feel and tries to carry the work of local artists alongside imports from Africa, Mexico and Bolivia. Positively Main Street (773 Elmwood Ave.) and Everything Elmwood (740 Elmwood Ave.) are the perfect places to go if you're looking for upscale gifts for parents or special friends. Positively Main Street carries jewelry, ties, cards, pottery and any other gift you can think of.

Even if you're not in the mood to buy, you'll have a great time in Everything Elmwood. The set-up of the store is as original as the items it carries. The two-level shop is filled with clocks, candles, jewelry and much, much more.

Finally, there's David Shueckler's specialty toy store, the Treehouse (754 Elmwood). This isn't your normal toy store. With only one battery-operated toy, the Treehouse is for the creative and imaginative. Shueckler is another store owner trying to do business with local artists and manufacturers so more people can get involved in Elmwood's revival.

EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY

After a hard day of shopping, it's time to replenish. No matter what your taste buds crave, you'll find a restaurant suited for you on the Elmwood Strip.

Just Pizza (976 Elmwood Ave.) and Elmwood Taco and Subs (925 Elmwood Ave.) are typical stops if you want to grab a quick bite to eat. The Acropolis (908 Elmwood Ave.) is a Greek restaurant specializing in souvlaki. It's a spot for those with unique tastes, and so is Kuni's Sushi Bar (752 Elmwood Ave).

Sequoia (718 Elmwood Ave.) is a more upscale restaurant with a great reputation. It serves brunch, lunch and dinner, and the prices are higher than most of the other restaurants on the Strip.

Dolci (732 Elmwood Ave.) is the place to be if you have a sweet tooth. The scents coming from the Italian bakery can be smelled from blocks away. Cafe Aroma (957 Elmwood Ave.) offers the necessary dose of caffeine with their selections of coffees and teas.

FOREVER ELMWOOD

The Elmwood Strip has become one of the most popular areas of the city, so even if you're not much of a shopper, it is a great place to hang out and watch people.

Elmwood is one of the few thriving districts of Buffalo. But none of the Strip's success could have been possible without the work of the Forever Elmwood Committee and its president, Mike Attardo.

If you've been in the Elmwood area recently, you may have noticed construction along the sidewalks. That's just one of Forever Elmwood's many projects. The construction is being done so trees and flowers can be planted to make the area more attractive.

Also, the city has given the district a grant so it can work with the Convention Center. The grant has been used to buy a bus to transport groups from the Convention Center to Elmwood instead of to malls out in the suburbs.

David Shueckler, the owner of the Treehouse, says it takes the enthusiasm of Forever Elmwood and young Elmwood entrepreneurs to turn the Strip into the prosperous district he knows it can be.

Julie Pace will be a sophomore at Amherst High School.

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